Blackwater Contractor Violence in Iraq Subject to US Congress Investigation

The Blackwater contractor who killed the Iraqi Vice President’s body guard in a drunken rage on Christmas Eve 2006 was back working for the US government in the Iraq war two months after the homicide, according to a report published on Thursday by CNN.

US House Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask for an explanation.

At the time of the killing in Baghdad’s Green Zone, private contractor Andrew Moonen, 27, was employed under a State Department contract.

After the shooting, Mr Moonen was quickly flown out of Iraq and his contract terminated by Blackwater. He also paid an undisclosed amount of compensation to the victim’s family, in order to minimize the potential for Blackwater to be banned from operating in Iraq.

However, due to the criminal immunity extended to private contractors under US and Iraqi law, Mr Moonen has not faced any charges relating to the killing.

Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently testified to the House oversight committee that his company had “made sure Mr Moonen’s clearance was cancelled” so that he would “never work in a clearance capacity for the US government again.”

Yet in February 2007, Mr Moonen was hired by Defense Department contractor Combat Support Services Associates (CSA) to support the Iraq war effort. CSA contracted Mr Moonen to work in Kuwait through to August 2007, unaware of the Christmas Eve shooting.

Mr Waxman has written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask whether the State Department or Blackwater withheld important information from the Defense Department regarding Mr Moonen’s employment record and the shooting incident in Iraq. He also requested a range of documentation relating to the shooting and the contractor’s re-hiring

Mr Waxman said this latest development flies in the face of the State Department’s claim that “We are scrupulous in terms of oversight and scrutiny not only of Blackwater but all of our contractors.”

Sources: CNN, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

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